Acura RDX
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Overall

Acura’s modestly sized five-passenger companion to the MDX wagon was new for 2013 and returns virtually unaltered for 2014.

Drivetrain

A 273-horsepower V6 is the standard powerplant; six-speed automatic transmission takes care of the gear-changing duties.

The RDX gives a good accounting of itself despite the range of competitors it must fend off. These include the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Land Rover Evoque. The significant physical adjustments that were introduced for the 2013 model year were simply the overture to the sweet sounds of a 3.5-liter V6 that replaced the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder. The V6 puts out 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, compared to 240 horses and 260 pound-feet of torque for the 2.3. More importantly, fuel consumption has been ramped up to 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway (20/28 for front-wheel-drive models), up from 17/22 and 19/24 (FWD) for the old RDX. A six-speed automatic transmission — one more gear than was used with the turbo four — also helps improve the mpg rating, but so do other fuel-conserving innovations, including the use of low-viscosity engine and transmission oil, a special friction-reducing coating on the pistons and Variable Cylinder Management that allows the engine to operate with two or three of its six cylinders shut down under light-load conditions. Above and beyond its powertrain efficiencies, the RDX features wind-cheating aerodynamics, fuel-saving electric power steering and fuel pump, and low rolling resistance tires. The RDX no longer employs Acura’s very effective Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). However, the replacement system, called AWD with Intelligent Control, has its own merits, sending 25 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when accelerating from a stop, up to 100 percent to the front wheels at a steady speed and splitting the torque 50:50 when heading up a 15-percent (or greater) slope. It can’t send extra torque to the outside turning wheels like the SH-AWD could, but that’s at least partially offset by electronic power-steering and traction-control systems that reduce front- or rear-end plowing while turning, commonly referred to as understeer and oversteer. The RDX follows Acura’s traditional formula of offering plenty of luxury content, including a power moonroof, leather-covered interior, power-adjustable front seats and a 360-watt audio system. An optional Tech Package adds a navigation /rearview camera combo, and a premium ELS-brand 10-speaker sound system.

Base price (incl. destination): $35,400
Type: Four-door compact tall wagon
Engine (hp): 3.5-liter DOHC V6 (273)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
MPG (city/hwy): 20/28 (FWD)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 3,720